Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), or Senile Dementia, a neurorodegenerative disorder like ALS and MS is a progressive disorder characterized by a deterioration of the memory and general cognitive functioning. Symptoms of AD include depression, appetite loss, aggressive behavior, agitation, and in some cases difficulty walking. AD is caused by amyloid plaques that form in the brain. The FDA has only approved a limited number of drugs to relieve the symptoms associated with AD.
Small-scale clinical trials have found Marinol, synthetic THC, have helped to reduce anxiety, hostility, anorexia and insomnia associated with Alzheimer’s. With the high cost of the prescription Marinol, doctors in states with medical cannabis as an option, have increasingly recommended cannabis for relief of symptoms.
Cancer occurs when cells become abnormal and keep dividing and forming more cells without control or order, forming a growth or tumor. Benign tumors are NOT cancer; malignant tumors are cancer. Cancer is actually a group of more than 100 different diseases.
Cancer symptoms may include pain, loss of sleep and loss of appetite. Depending on the form of cancer the effects vary in intensity and various other medical characteristics. The treatment for many cancer patients can be as difficult, if not worse, than the disease itself. However, many patients have benefited from the effects of cannabis with an increase in appetite and a calming of nausea, the side effects of traditionally prescribed medical treatment regimes.
Cannabis also benefits patients by allowing for a longer and deeper sleep cycle.
The University of Iowa Clinical Research Center found that consumption of THC orally in doses of 5 to 10 mg was nearly as effective as 60 mg of codeine used for pain relief in cancer patients.
As many as one in five Americans live with chronic pain. A large number of them suffer from nerve-related pain. Such diseases may include arthritis, diabetes, cancer, migraines, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS and many more.
Survey data indicates that the use of cannabis is common in chronic pain diseases and several recent clinical trials indicate that inhaled cannabis can significantly alleviate pain. A pair of clinical trials recently demonstrated that smoking cannabis reduces neuropathic (nerve) pain in patients with HIV by more than 30 percent compared to a placebo.
Chronic pain is generally treated with opioid narcotics such as morphine, codeine, oxycodone, methadone and other synthetic analgesics. Many of these drugs are addictive and some patients actually build a tolerance to them over time. Other patients complain of the incapacitated state that many of these drugs induce.
Like opiates, cannabinoids block the pain pathways of the central nervous system but through a different neurochemical signaling system. Many patients find that cannabis can reduce or even replace the opiate drugs they used for chronic pain depending on their condition. They also report the ability to continue to work and function normally throughout the day.
Cannabinoids found in cannabis have additional effects, specifically alleviating inflammation around damaged nerves and have been especially useful for the “phantom pain” associated with amputation.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome of unknown etiology. Characterized by widespread pain, fatigue, generally with multiple tender points in the neck, spine, shoulders and hips. In addition, fibromyalgia has been linked to morning stiffness, sleep problems, headaches, numbness in hands and feet, depression and in some cases anxiety. An estimated 3 to 6 million Americans are afflicted by fibromyalgia, which is poorly controlled by standard pain medications causing a reduction in quality of life.
Fibromyalgia patients have self-reported the positive and therapeutic effects of using cannabis in treating the symptoms of their disease. Cannabis, with its pain relieving qualities has been helpful for patients searching for relief from pain. In addition to the pain, many diagnosed with fibromyalgia suffer from interruptions in sleep patterns and therefore never attain the fourth stage of sleep. Cannabis is also helpful in inducing and helping patients remain asleep throughout the evening.
Recent research has shown the analgesic action of cannabinoids. Studies have found that THC and other cannabinoids inhibit acute responses to pain and relieve enhanced pain sensitivity (hyperalgesia).
Gastrointestinal (GI) Disorders
Gastrointestinal (GI) Disorders, including functional bowel diseases that include Crohn’s disease, colitis, gastro-oesophagael reflux condition and irritable bowel syndrome. Patients that suffer from such disorders experience symptoms including chronic pain, cramping, diarrhea and weight loss.
Several recent surveys indicate that patients reported improvement in symptoms including a reduction in pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and an increase in appetite.
The analgesic qualities of cannabinoids have been reported to help patients to relax, sleep and relieve the stress associated from the pain of the GI disorders. Finally, cannabinoids help stimulate appetite and curb nausea.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve is the part of the eye that delivers images we see to the brain. Glaucoma is often refereed to as the silent thief of sight, gradually stealing without warning and often without symptoms. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to blindness. It is among the leading causes of blindness, affecting more than 60 million individuals worldwide.
It was once thought that elevated pressure inside the eye was the main cause of optic nerve damage. Although elevated pressure is clearly a risk factor, we now know that other factors must also be involved because even people with “normal” pressure can experience vision loss from glaucoma.
The primary benefit that medical marijuana provides for glaucoma patients, is its effect on intraocular pressure (IOP). In one study, more than 75% of patients who smoked marijuana using an ice-cooled water pipe experienced a reduction in IOP of 16-45%. Another study used cannabinoids contained in medicinal marijuana, and found a significant drop in IOP in patients who took THC and cannabidiol. A third clinical trial also found that medical marijuana reduces intraocular pressure, as well as blood pressure overall.
HIV / Aids
Human immunodeficiency virus is a retrovirus that invades cells in the immune system, creating an environment susceptible to infectious diseases. HIV/AIDS has been known to create severe weight and appetite loss, known as AIDS wasting syndrome, which creates an impact on health and quality of life. However, many more HIV/AIDS patients suffer from the nausea created by the drugs used for the treatment of the disease and cannabis helps relieve this symptom.
Due to the compromised immune system caused by HIV, health concerns have arisen due to risk of respiratory infections from smoking. In addition, contamination of cannabis with bacteria and fungus spores can be life-threatening to AIDS patients.
Due to these health risks, vaporizing or the consumption of edibles is recommended for those patients at higher risk of respiratory infection.
Many doctors and AIDS patients have discovered that marijuana use allows them to fight nausea and stimulate the appetite in order to help support their anti-retroviral therapy regimen. In addition, marijuana has also been found to help relieve the pain associated with HIV including headaches, leg cramps, chronic fatigue, and general body pain. Finally, cannabis has been found to be an effective sleep aid for HIV patients.
Not a legally supported diagnoses for medical marijuana in Colorado, patients with other disorders find insomnia is a symptom which heavily impacts quality of life. Many patients who use marijuana for other purposes have found that cannabis helps them sleep better, longer and more soundly. During the nineteenth century, cannabis was widely recognized for it’s hypnotic, calming and sleep-inducing qualities.
Proper use of marijuana strains can insure a peaceful rest for a majority of patients. However, overuse of marijuana may suppress rapid eye-movement (REM), during which dreams occur.
In addition, preliminary studies with animals have shown that cannabinoids have been found to have “potent suppression” of sleep-related apnea.
Migraine headaches can be extremely severe and debilitating. Many of the medications currently used for migraine headaches have significant side effects and often do not prevent or relieve all of the symptoms.
Marijuana was used to treat migraine headaches for many years in the nineteenth century, however due to the political climate and attitude towards marijuana in the twentieth century, it was not researched or promoted as an effective treatment for migraines.
Recent research has shown that THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, inhibits the release of serotonin from the blood of migraine sufferers during an acute attack, thereby reducing symptoms of pain. Although further scientific research is needed, many patients are using medical marijuana safely and effectively to prevent and treat their migraine headaches.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
An estimated 350,000 people in the United States are living with multiple sclerosis (MS), a debilitating and sometimes fatal disorder of the central nervous system.
Numerous case studies, surveys and double-blind studies have reported improvement in patients treated with cannabinoids for symptoms including spasticity, chronic pain, tremor, sexual dysfunction, bowel and bladder dysfunctions, vision dimness, dysfunctions of walking and balance (ataxia), and memory loss. Cannabinoids have been shown in animal models to measurably lessen MS symptoms and may also halt the progression of the disease.
In addition to studying the potential role of marijuana and its derivatives in the treatment of MS-related symptoms, scientists are exploring the potential of cannabinoids to inhibit neurodegeneration.
Nausea (chronic), Anti-Convulsant & Anti-Spasmodic
Cannabis has been found to be useful in treating conditions that cause nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. Conditions include various kinds of intestinal and kidney disease, opiate addition, drugs associated with cancer treatments and anorexia nervosa. Cannabinoids help stimulate appetite and alleviate pain associated with the symptoms of nausea.
In addition to treating chronic nausea, cannabis is also used as an anti-convulsant and anti-spasmodic. Spasticity and convulsions are two of the oldest established medicinal uses of cannabis throughout history. Used to treat epilepsy as far back as medieval Arabia and in sixteenth-century Southeast Asia. Since then, cannabis has been useful for a plethora of spasm-inducing disorders including multiple sclerosis and spinal injuries. Many patients also feel they are better able to achieve control of their symptoms through the use of marijuana.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a psychiatric condition afflicting thousands of war veterans and crime and accident victims of violent trauma. Victims of such experiences often experience debilitating depression, sleeplessness, anxiety, mood swings, fatigue, irritability and even chronic pain or weight loss. Patients diagnosed with PTSD have found that cannabis has been useful in alleviating many of the symptoms associated with the condition.
United States Army doctors, from whom cannabis is currently not an option, have commonly prescribed veterans of PTSD anti-depressants, anti-convulsants, anti-psychotics, tranquilizers and a host of other medications. However, patients have reported that cannabis works better than all of their other prescriptions to offset the PTSD symptoms.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory disease of the joints characterized by pain, stiffness and swelling. This progressively degenerative disease may lead to a loss of limb function. Rheumatoid arthritis is estimated to affect about one percent of the population, primarily women. Associated with RA is a feeling of deep, intense and constant pain. With many patients, stronger drugs, such as opiates for pain and corticosteroids for inflammation are prescribed. Many of these drugs have dangerous side effects when taken regularly.
Cannabis has been used for this disease since the early nineteenth century when it was said to be as effective as opium for severe pain.
The analgesic qualities of cannabinoids help relieve the pain associated with the disease. In addition, cannabis helps patients to relax and relieve the stress associated from the pain. Many patients have found that consumption of cannabis has a profound and long lasting affect on their disorder.